Kennesaw State ArtsKSU 2023 Gala Raises Funds for Scholarships, Programming

KENNESAW, Ga. | Nov 7, 2023

Over 200 patrons attended the formal gala at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

Kennesaw State University College of the Arts welcomed over 200 patrons to the 2023 ArtsKSU Gala, held Oct. 14 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The event raised over $1,910,000 to support student scholarships and programming, including $800,000 in new endowed scholarship funds and a bequest of $1,070,000 to name the Emily Grigsby and Athos Menaboni galleries at Chastain Pointe. The Emily Grigsby Gallery will primarily exhibit student work while the Athos Menaboni Gallery will exhibit Menaboni works from the collection of the Zuckerman Museum of Art, a unit of the School of Art and Design. 

hands holding a water globe with scenic island inside
The 2023 ArtsKSU Gala raised over $1,910,000 to support scholarships and programming.

Harrison Long, Interim Dean of the College of the Arts, said, “We are overwhelmed and deeply grateful for the generous support. These contributions will positively impact the lives of students within the College of the Arts.”

As patrons arrived, they walked a red carpet generously provided by sponsor Mohawk Group and were greeted by student “paparazzi” from the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies. Once inside the venue, guests were entertained by Department of Dance students sporting peacock feathers while performing in the atrium, in a bit of foreshadowing for the upcoming performance by the KSU Dance Company. 

Before dinner, guests listened to the Bailey School of Music’s KSU Jazz Quartet, under the direction of Sam Skelton and Trey Wright. Guests then bid on the silent auction items, ranging from original artworks to wine baskets, to a balloon ride and an in-home chef experience. 

Next, students from the cast of “Once on This Island,” directed by Amanda Wansa Morgan, kicked off the main program with an Afro-Caribbean musical beat. Music played throughout the meal, featuring the KSU Brass Ensemble, directed by Paul Dickinson, and an unusual, moving piano duet by students Hannah Mullenix and Jake Daron. The School of Art and Design’s alumna Wendy Mitchell designed the table runners for the evening, mentored by Amanda Britton of the Textiles and Design program.

The live auction, led by Tarryn and Jason Troutman of Auction Horizons, featured a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South Africa, alongside Instagram-worthy trips to the beautiful North Georgia mountains. After the live auction, patrons watched the KSU Dance Company perform innovative choreography by faculty Lisa K. Lock and Autumn Eckman. The evening ended with a rousing, crowd-pleasing rendition of Jai Ho! from “Slumdog Millionaire,” performed by the KSU Chamber Singers and KSU Percussion Ensemble, directed by John Lawless and conducted by Leslie Blackwell. 

All four units of the College of the Arts were involved in the ArtsKSU Gala, the largest scholarship fundraising event of the year. Long said, “I am so thankful to the College of the Arts faculty, staff and students who donated their time, talent, expertise, and artistry to make the 2023 ArtsKSU Gala a success. I also want to acknowledge the College of the Arts Ambassadors who worked so diligently to make this event possible. These volunteers are entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and business leaders who are passionate about the arts at KSU and who commit a significant amount of time and energy to support the College of the Arts and its mission.” 

Over the past two years, the College of the Arts has awarded 150 Gala Scholarships. Long explained that the Gala Scholarships “help hard-working students take better advantage of the precious and formative time they spend with us. Many of our high-achieving students come from humble beginnings, so they balance part-time jobs on top of challenging academic schedules. Gala scholarships often make the difference between staying in school or dropping out, or they afford the student a few extra hours every week to rehearse, paint, write, or practice an instrument.” 

--Kathie Beckett

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